No more ‘flat’

That was one of the themes of my last set of lessons.

We were looking at the cha cha which has an elaborate new york sequence and in doing the new yorks we had a conversation about body position. Part of that included a switch from a flat body position to one that emphasizes angles.

Essentially, I was told that no matter what step I am doing, I need to work to stretch from shoulder to opposite hip. There is no more being ‘flat’. Its a progression to move my dance forward and bring it to the next level.

It’s actually quite a mindset change for me. Its going to take some work, but because it involves a stretch it should be easy to mark when I can feel when I am doing it. Its a challenge to give myself, especially while I am away.

We also discussed my right arm and the limitations from the scar tissue. We tried a few different positions for it with it elevated and we really couldn’t find a position for it extended over my head that didn’t raise my should or even look really good. My left arm was ok. In the end, we agreed that we would avoid having my right arm up from now on we wouldn’t ever put it into that position, and agreed on 3 positions that would work – on my hip, bent to my head, and extended at shoulder height.

I feel better with that agreement. It really doesn’t look good when I put my arm up and that is a good compromise. I can do it on the left side and in many ways that allows for some built in variety.

We really worked through the cha cha which helped break it down and identify the problem points for me. In a few places it was a matter that I was overturning and ending up facing wrong direction in places.

We also went over the beginning of the samba again to review the promenade runs and iron out and clarify some of the points there. We got pretty much to the same point as last lessons but I feel like I understand it much better now. I have to sort out some arm issues, but in general at least the first few steps are coming together. We also spent time working on cruzado walks, the main point being I need to move my hips more and (of course) work on getting the angles.

In the group class we also focused on samba, working on whisks, bota fogos, and voltas. It was a good review of the technique overall and left me with a lot to think about.

Work has been crazy again and despite trying really hard I haven’t been able to do practice so far this week. Thankfully with the long weekend I will get a chance to practice Friday, Saturday and Monday without worrying about work. I plan to definitely catch up. I am also dealing with a bit of an ear infection, so I am hoping that clears up as my balance has been a bit wonky.

Time to move things forward from flat to angled.

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Life moves on

In more ways than one.

First, I had great lessons with Boss and lady Boss last weekend. While they were away competing, I was able to send them some videos of my practice exercises so we started with some feedback on them. The main point was that I don’t work with the music enough and focus on being precises too much and that I need to allow my body to move and flow more without being so precise. Overall, both seemed pleased with what I have done.

We spent some time working on the rumba and lady boss videoed Boss and I doing some run throughs of it. There are some really good points, but also some points to still work on.

One of the things that was also noted by Boss is that while I may be aware of where my partner is while I am dancing, I am completely clueless when it comes to knowing where my arms are and where I am connected with him. For example, instead of placing my arm up where it would be for an underarm turn, when I dance on my own I move my arms as I would if I was dancing alone.

Enter Lady Boss’s semi private group class which I do after my lessons with Boss. As a group, we are focusing on my gold routines (which is quite convenient), and in particular, all of us were challenged to work on a portion of the routine on our own with all the correct arms. So if we are joined by one arm with our partner in a cucharacha we cannot move both arms in the same manner.

In both lessons, we also looked at the samba, which for me needs a lot of work, especially to be able to do it on my own. I am unsure of so many of the steps, and the style of samba I have been taught seems to have a lot of stylistic differences from what Boss would like now. Some of the steps, I have also never done so I am having to learn them – most of them involve voltas – steps which are definitely not my strong suit.

I have more lessons again tomorrow, and then every other week from now until I leave until December for work.

Yep, I am going to be deploying overseas for work again this year from 15 Sept until early Dec. It is sailing again, although I won’t be leaving from my home town, but meeting the ship overseas. Its a different area, a different class of ship (much bigger) and a different challenge because the program will be started by another communicator, although it will be for me to bring it home for the majority of the deployment. Details are still being worked out, but it is coming fast and furious.

I have 4 more sets of lessons until I leave, then it is up to me to keep moving things forward while I am away. I should have better connectivity on the bigger ship, so I am hoping I will be able to stay in touch with the Bosses more and not feel like I am getting behind.

Life is moving on.

What a month!

And it is barely halfway over.

When the month started, I felt like it was going to finally be a good one for me.

Turns out, I was wrong. Its been a month of one thing after another after another.

Work continues to be crazy busy, so that is not helping much. The sudden side effects and having to switch medications has also made everything harder than it needs to be. I have been transitioning from one to the other and now I am only on one but the side effects from beginning the new meds haven’t worn off yet. Its a little weird because more of the side effects involve feeling like something is happening (like a racing heart or trembling), but it actually isn’t (my fitbit doesn’t show anything other than a normal heartbeat, and I can see my hands aren’t shaking). My mind also often seems like its going in 6 different directions at once and I can’t seem to figure out how to reign it in.

Those are just the mental side effects. There are some physical ones like headaches and body aches too.

Last week was rough. I was able to get back to some activity and resume my full workout program. Things were feeling good and productive, although there was some muscle tightness and soreness. I seemed to be having some shin splints too.

At physio, I was showing good progress on my shoulder and ankle, so the therapist decided to work on trying to release my quad muscle to give some relief to my hip flexors and knees. After my appointment I asked if there were any issues with me going to do my regular sprint intervals as I was almost at the point of increasing the interval. He didn’t have any concerns.

Unfortunately, almost at the end of  my 4th sprint interval I suddenly felt a sharp and deep pain in my lower right glute almost where it joins with my hamstring. I had to stop sprinting and reduce to a jog so light I may have been walking faster. I was so angry I seriously wanted to hit something. The sprinting had been going so well there was really no reason for this sharp pain to suddenly appear. I had thought that perhaps my shoes were getting a little worn and causing the shin splints but this seemed extreme and sudden. I immediately iced it when I returned to my office and alternated heat and ice throughout the evening. It seemed to settle some, but there was still some lingering pain.

I also noticed I was experiencing some pain especially if I took a big step while walking, but I couldn’t seem to pin it down. It is still lingering and my intervals are still really light jogs with small strides.

To add insult to injury, Sunday morning I woke up and my left shoulder felt sore and stiff. My best guess is that I slept funny on it. By the mid-afternoon my shoulder had tightened up so much I could barely use it and I was in extreme pain. I put heat on it and had to take some muscle relaxants to try to settle it down. I couldn’t turn my head right barely at all. Thankfully it loosened some by the morning but I had to continue to work to loosen it all week. Its still giving some issues now and then. This is similar to the chronic issues I had been experiencing since returning to work over a year ago, but it seemed to have worked itself out more than a month ago. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for why it flared up this much all of a sudden.

I return to physio tomorrow, but my therapist is then on vacation for two weeks. I am hoping he will be able to give some idea on what is going on with my glute and how to get it better. I am still getting some ‘tweaks’ now and then, but I haven’t been able to figure out a pattern to what is irritating it. For example, cha cha walks irritate it some times, but not every time.

I have been able to be consistent with my practice and I now have three routines more or less mapped out. The samba is proving the most challenging (but not a surprise) as there are some steps I have never done, and others which are done differently from what I have done. I have two lessons and a group class this weekend I am really looking forward to after a two week break. I know I have the rumba and cha cha in good condition and the pieces of the samba I know are also in passable condition. Hopefully with a little direction the rest will come together.

I am hopeful the side effects, random muscle irritations and other issues will die down and work themselves out as the month continues.

Fingers crossed.

Routines!

Closed Gold it is!

Last week I got a pleasant surprise when I was emailed two routines, rumba and cha cha from my new instructors. Both were closed gold.

It was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting routines so quickly and because I was expecting closed silver instead of gold. Needless to say, I was pretty happy.

I was also able to get some practice in last week and slowly determine what I want to work on for exercises. Already I could feel some of the changes I have been working on starting to become part of my movements. I was also able to learn the full rumba and write out the cha cha before my lessons on the weekend (I only received the cha cha on Friday evening).

I had two private lessons, one with Lady Boss and one with Boss, followed by a 90 min semi private group class (only 5 students) focused on technique with Lady Boss.

The lesson with Lady Boss was focused on arm movements, giving me some movements to focus on and incorporate with my other exercises, was well as some movements for more ‘freestyle’ arm movements.

The lesson with Boss was focused on working on the rumba routine together. He was very happy to see that I knew the routine and already we were able to look into some of the details, again mainly making small adjustments due to differences between what I had done before. For example, adjusting where I step back from the fan to going straight back instead of at a diagonal angle.

The Bosses are away for the next two weekends competing in Asia, so I have a bit of a break in lessons. Boss told me he would like me to know the rumba, cha cha, and a samba which I am waiting to receive.

There has been another major change in how I do strength training. I had a meeting with my trainer who has been discussing options with my physio therapist. Around the same time, I managed to pull together an idea based on some conversations with Boss and my physio.

Long story short, I will not be doing any heavy lifting at the gym for quite some time. The main reason for that is that there is nothing I do in dance that requires me to move heavy weight. There is a lot that requires me to stabilize using my core and stabilizing muscles. That is the new focus on my exercises. None of my exercises require use of weights, except one (which can also be done with a theraband) and all of them focus on working the stabilizing muscles (eg. erectors, abs, obliques, adductors, abductors, and small glute muscles).

I do the exercises 4 days a week with some small variations to a couple of them to work the muscles slightly differently. I follow this with cardio – sprint intervals two days a week and sustained cardio on the elliptical the other two days.

I am eager to work into a regular pattern with these new exercises. I am looking forward to seeing if the change makes a difference in other areas where I have been struggling – mainly weight loss. Prior to competing at Emerald I suddenly dropped a lot of weight without expecting to. In hindsight, the only difference during that period was that I wasn’t doing weight training due to the hip bursitis. That is leading me to think that one of the major barriers to my weight loss may be doing the heavy lifting. When I first lost the weight in 2012, it is interesting to note that I didn’t do any heavy lifting exercises then either. Seems to be too much to be a coincidence. Time will tell.

Unfortunately, getting started has been delayed a little. Over the past 3 weeks I have been struggling with some on-going issues – dizziness, exhaustion, digestive issues, frequent headaches, fuzzy head, unexpected weight gain, bloating, and almost constant yawning. It took me a while to put it all together because I was attributing it to stress and other factors, but once I did I realized they are all side effects to the medication I am on for menopause. I experienced similar side effects when taking the medication before in 2017.

The most difficult issue has been the exhaustion. I had actually increased my caffeine intake from a max of 1 cup of coffee to 4 a day to try to overcome it. Every thing I did took far too much energy and motivation and I had been basically walking through things. I spoke with a doctor and we are switching back to another medication which will help with most of the symptoms, but not the hot flashes. There is a period of transition between the two meds where I am reducing the dose of the previous while taking the new, but I am hopeful that in a few days things will start to feel ‘normal’ again.

I really want to just get back to doing things I enjoy – dance practice, and my strength training.

Afterall, I have new routines to learn.